How to get a PC to use iMac monitor
March 13, 2007 8:12 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of getting an iMac, but I'd still like to use my PC. I would like to clear the clutter on my desk and not have 2 monitors (the iMac and the PC monitor). So is it possible to get a PC to use the display of an iMac?
posted by xmattxfx to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Why not go the other way around? A Mac Mini will quite easily hook up to your PC monitor, keyboard, mouse ... quite a bit less expensive, too, I believe. (And I've also seen people mount the Mini on the underside of a desk, because they're so small/lightweight)
posted by jbickers at 8:18 AM on March 13, 2007

Response by poster: I've thought of that, but I want a smaller monitor anyway. My current one is big 19" CRT. Takes up lots of space. The plan with getting an iMac was to have a slimmer monitor. Otherwise, I would just buy a flat panel and a Mac Mini. I may have to I guess if I can't do what I want described above.
posted by xmattxfx at 8:24 AM on March 13, 2007

Not directly. But you could run Parallels/Windows on the iMac and control the PC remotely or mount it as a network drive.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:25 AM on March 13, 2007

A mac mini and a KVM switch will do what you want. Be sure the kvm switch supports the correct technologies you use for hooking up your mouse and keyboard, and that will let you share the same computer setup between two computers (the mini, and the pc)
posted by cschneid at 8:25 AM on March 13, 2007

You can also boot your mac into windows using bootcamp, or simultaneously in parallels.
posted by koudelka at 8:26 AM on March 13, 2007

Step 1 - install VNC server on your windows machine.
Step 2 - Stick the PC in a closet somewhere
Step 3 - use VNC to log in and access your PC from your mac whenever you want.
posted by chrisamiller at 8:26 AM on March 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you're not running any heavy 3D stuff on your PC, you could always use Remote Desktop (on XP and 2003, at least). MS provides a Mac client. I haven't used it from Mac to PC, but working from PC-to-PC, it's just like being at the desktop (assuming a moderately good network connection) -- much, much faster than any sort of VNC. They claim it'll only work with XP Pro, but I think you ought to be able to turn on "Remote Assistance" in XP Home and connect to it.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:30 AM on March 13, 2007

You can also boot your mac into windows using bootcamp, or simultaneously in parallels.
koudelka has the most elegant solution. One computer running both systems.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:32 AM on March 13, 2007

Response by poster: The problem with a VNC is that I have a dual-boot of Ubuntu and Win2000 on the box.
posted by xmattxfx at 8:37 AM on March 13, 2007

I use the mac Remote Desktop all the time. If your version of windows supports it that would be a good solution for basic stuff - probably not a good idea for games or whatever.

VNC works too, but the RDC client for mac is free and has more features.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 8:38 AM on March 13, 2007

Ditch the box. Get Parallels and a fat hard drive (and extra RAM!). I'm running XP alongside Tiger on my Macbook and it's awesome.

Failing that, why not have VNC server run on both OS's, no matter what you boot into?
posted by mkultra at 8:40 AM on March 13, 2007

For Windows, though, I agree, RDC kicks the snot out of VNC.
posted by mkultra at 8:43 AM on March 13, 2007

Best answer: The reason everyone is giving you other options, by the way, is that no, it is not possible to use the iMac LCD with another computer.
posted by raf at 9:11 AM on March 13, 2007

At the moment, a Mac mini is not a very good alternative to an iMac.
posted by smackfu at 9:53 AM on March 13, 2007

Virtualize ubuntu for free with qemu in your windows installation and use VNC/RDP to control everything from you mac. If you're dual booting youre probably not serious about linux performance and not running it as a server, so this flip suggestion is actually kinda sincere.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:22 AM on March 13, 2007

UltraVNC on Windows, in my experience, is almost as good as (maybe even better than) Remote Desktop. Switching an older Win2kPro box (which can't do Remote Desktop) from TightVNC to UltraVNC (even before using the special UltraVNC video driver) was a dramatic step up.
posted by xiojason at 10:22 AM on March 13, 2007

Get a dual input monitor and a copy of Synergy, or a KVM switch if you really want (probably be slightly less clunky, but not free). Synergy works best with multiple monitors, but it's simple enough to lock it to a single display and set hotkeys for switching control.

I do wonder why Apple went with the crazy iMac design; it makes their hardware lineup far less interesting to me, with one tiny system, one very-slightly-less-tiny system inexplicably integrated with a monitor you can't upgrade or replace independently, and one completely over the top system, leaving a huge gap where something less over/underwhelming should go.
posted by Freaky at 10:29 AM on March 13, 2007

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